tv U.S. Senate 11082017 CSPAN November 8, 2017 5:59pm-7:06pm EST
so, mr. president, i leave you and my colleagues with this. i'm sorry to say that mr. wehrum has worked deliberately to halt that progress, to delay that progress, and to roll back the clean air laws that have been protecting america and americans for decades. unlike many of the nominees who have come before us this year, unfortunately we don't have to speculate about how mr. wehrum would do in this position. we've already seen it. we've already seen it. and the results were not good for the rest of us. as his clients at the time -- at this time, we deserve better representation. today americans deserve leaders at e.p.a. who will be impartial and look out for the interest of all americans. not just big oil and the powerful clients who can afford mr. wehrum's legal bills. mr. president, we've seen this
movie before. there is no need for a sequel. i regret having to say that, but i do believe mr. wehrum is not the right fit for this position today any more than he was a dozen years ago. and i encourage my colleagues to vote no on his nomination to serve as e.p.a.'s assistant administrator for air, and i reserve the balance of my time. now, mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. strange: mr. president, are we in a quorum call, sir? the presiding officer: we are. mr. kennedy: i ask that the quorum call be suspended, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kennedy: mr. president, this saturday is veterans day, a day we honor the brave women and brave men who served in the great defense of this nation. we need to take a moment to reflect on the freedoms that we
enjoy every day as american citizens. we need to take that moment to thank those who devoted their lives to serve and protect the greatest nation in human history, the united states of america. mr. president, as you know, our country is home to over 20 million veterans -- 20 million veterans, and i have the privilege of representing more than 250,000 veterans in my state of louisiana. and today i would like to talk about two of those veterans from my state who are illustrative of the military service that
veterans in louisiana have offered their country. the two gentlemen i would like to talk about are ira shilling and earl louis vesmer. ira shilling enlisted in the marine corps in 1941 at the age of 16 -- 16 years old. after completing his training, ira was assigned as a rifleman to l company second marine division and he took part in combat operations on guatalcanal. he was discharged fromtive duty in october of 1945. in 1948, mr. schilling tried to
reenlist in the united states marine corps. he was married at the time. the marine corps turned down his request. undaunted, mr. schilling went over and enlisted in the u.s. navy, and he spent another two years on active duty in defense of this country. ira is now 92 years young and he is a civil air patrol wing chaplain. mr. earl louis mesmer. he was born in new orleans in the southern part of my state in 1923. he is very proud, and we're all proud of him, for serving in the battle of pelalu from september 15 to november 15, 1944. that battle was a fight to capture an air strip in the western pacific ocean.
the united states won. we prevailed due to the bravery of the army's 81st infantry division which earl was a member of. upon his return from world war ii in 1945, mr. messmer went to tulane university. earl has two daughters, five grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren, all of whom are enjoying the freedom of this country that he fought so gallantly for and earl has resided in meitre, louisiana, since 1942. it's imperative, mr. president, in my judgment, that this veans day and every day we honor the sacrifices made by our women and men in uniform. that's why i have introduced a bill. it is the 75th anniversary of
the end of world war ii commemorative coin act. i hope you will vote for it, mr. president. this bill would authorize a commemorative coin to mark the milestone anniversary and historic sacrifices of what has been andly termed the -- aptly termed the greatest generation. thanks to the bravery of 16 million american military personnel -- brave men and women -- but brave men like ir a&e arl -- ira and earl. many lost their lives in world war ii. thanks to them liberty and democracy prevailed against the
rawest, ugly yes form of tyranny. the least we can do, it seems to me, mr. president, for those who fought for our freedom is to ensure that institutions like the national world war ii museum can continue to educate future generations about our country's role in world war ii and support the families of our veterans. mr. president, i would like to urge all of my colleagues to please join woo me, as -- join with me, as i know they will, in thanking the millions of veterans who fought and served our country. i hope we can all pray together for the safety of our brave men and women in uniform who are sill serving today -- still serving today. thank you, mr. president. with that, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. van hollen: mr. president, as we all know, president trump is now in china on an important trip where his top priority is obtaining china's cooperation in confronting north korea's nuclear weapons program. while we should continue to seek china's cooperation in applying economic and other pressure on north korea, we here also need to send a very clear and strong message to banks in china and throughout the world that there will be a price to pay for lack of any cooperation. that's why i'm pleased that yesterday before president trump arrived in china, the senate banking committee on a unanimous basis passed a bill to impose and enforce mandatory sanctions against banks and financial firms in china or anywhere else in the world that help prop up
the regime of kim jong-un. the bill is named the auto warmbier banking restrictions involving the north korea act or the brink act for short. i introduced this bill with senator toomey earlier this year after north korea engaged in its threatening and provocative missile launches. and i want to thank senator toomey for his partnership in developing the brink act. i want to champg chairman crapo and ranking member brown for their leadership in addressing the north korean threat and working to pass this bill out of the banking committee with unanimous support. and i want to thank all the members of the banking committee for their bipartisan effort on this matter. i also want to thank the chairman of the foreign relations committee, senator corker, and the ranking member
senator cardin for their bipartisan leadership in confronting the threat of north korea. and also the leadership of the east asia subcommittee on the senate foreign relations committee headed by senators gardner and markey. they have been consistent in their efforts to address the north korean threat and seek a peaceful resolution of this crisis. bank in august i had the opportunity to visit south korea, japan, and china as part of a bipartisan delegation that was led by senator markey. we had the opportunity to travel not only to the d.m.z. zone between south and north korea but also to visit the city of van don which is a city on the border between china and north korea along the river. that is where a lot of the cross border trade and transactions between north korea and china
take place. mr. president, the threat posed by north korea to the united states and our allies is very real. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general -- dunnford testified in september that north korea has the capability to strike the u.s. with an intercontinental missile. north korea has ramped up the pace of its ballistic missile tests firing two missiles over japan in recent months and in september, north korea conducted its sixth test of a nuclear weapon, the largest yet. the question is how do we deal with this threat? way back when it came to foreign policy and national security issues, president teddy roosevelt counseled that we should, quote, speak softly and carry a big stick. president trump and all of us would be wise to heed that advice. bluster and overheated rhetoric
not only won't work, they raise the risk of miscalculation and war with north korea. it is much better to steadily and dramatically ratchet up the pressure on north korea to come to the negotiating table with the goal of denuclearizing the korean peninsula. that strategy has to include lots of elements, but an indispensable tool is putting much greater pressure on pyongyang. and despite what many people think, north korea is not sanctioned out. it's not as if we've already applied and enforced maximum economic pressure on north korea. in fact, our existing sanctions regime against north korea is much weaker than the sanctions regime we had in place against iran in the lead-up to the iran nuclear deal. and that is because the united states and others have not
seriously gone after the foreign banks and firms that support the north korean leadership and its cronies. the reality is that north kore korea's economy is not as weak or isolated as many believe. its annual g.d.p. is estimated to be40 billion and china accounts for almost 90% of north korea's trade. the united nations has repeatedly found that north korea evades the existing international sanctions effort and maintains access to the international financial system primarily through a network -- comprehensive network of chinese-based front companies. north korea relies heavily on this network to directly support its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. mr. president, we have no time to waste. we must server kim jong-un's
economic lifeline. that's why senator toomey and others have introduced the brink act and why it receives such strong support. the brink act tamp gets this illicit financial network by imposing mandatory sanctions on those doing business with north korea. it sends a clear and unequivocal message to foreign banks and foreign firms. you can do business with north korea or you can do business with the united states, but you cannot do business with both. that is the choice we place before other countries with respect to iran and it helped generate the pressure to bring iran to the negotiating table. if you trade with north korea, you will not have any access to the u.s. markets. this, as i indicated, is the choice that we ultima thely gave
to iran -- ultimately gave to iran back in 2010 and the brink act is modeled after the sanctions laws that we applied in the case of iran that brought them ultimately to the negotiating table. our goal is to cut off north korea's remaining access to the international financial system, deprive kim jong-un of the resources needed for his regime survival and create the level necessary for serious negotiations. some critics of this approach argue that china may lash out at the united states or respond in kind. mr. president, the gravity of the situation compels us to act regardless of beijing's reaction in these circumstances. simply asking china for its cooperation is not enough. it has to be backed up by a clear message and law from the united states that there are severe penalties for those who
do not cooperate and who do not abide by the sanctions. and that's what this bill is all about. it's also important to note that when secondary sanctions on iran were put into place, the chinese government issued a tepid public protest and privately, then, directed its sanctioned banks to stop working with iran. in other words, after some quiet protest, they complied with that secondary sanctions regime on iran. moreover, beijing claimed just this september that it's directed its banks to freeze any north korean accounts, a directive which if true is long overdue but it will be hard for china to say that we shouldn't take this action if it's an action they've already said they've directed their banks to take. and this makes it clear that it will be in china's economic interests to fully enforce the
sanctions on north korea. mr. president, i'm cleareyed about the challenges we face in bringing north korea to the negotiating table. previous democratic and republican administrations have failed to end north korea's nuclear and missile programs. and because of this, some argue that kim jong-un will never give up his nuclear program. to those critics, my response is simply we have not exhausted all our options on north korea. there's incredible leakage right now in the sanctions regime, and that lekage is -- leakage is what the brink act is designed to address and to close the loopholes and put teeth into the sanctions. the choice between accepting a nuclear north korea or launching some kind of preventive war is a false one. and i strongly believe that this aggressive secondary sanctions regime as part of an overall company heerntsz strategy --
coherent strategy backed by our allies and the threat of force is our best remaining chance of achieving a nuclear-free korean peninsula. right now we face no more urgent task than achieving a peaceful resolution of the north korean nuclear crisis. we need clear thinking. we need courage. we need common sense on the choices before us. at stake is not just the security of those in the region but ultimately of the united states. it's incumbent on all of us to ensure that the pursuit of peace prevails in this effort. i ask my colleagues in the senate to follow the lead of the banking committee in giving this a unanimous bipartisan vote in the united states senate so we can get this to the house as soon as possible, have it signed into law so that when we ask other nations for cooperation,
they know that failing to cooperate with us is not an option or if they do take that course, they will face severe economic consequences. so i hope, mr. president, the senate will take this up without delay and that we can pass it and get it to the president's desk. thank you. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. ms. duckworth: mr. president, i thank my colleague from maryland for his thoughtful words on north korea. i come to the floor today to urge my colleagues to oppose the nomination of william wehrum to lead the office of air and radiation at the e.p.a. if confirmed, mr. wehrum will be responsible for implementing critical programs, like the renewable fuel standard and other key public health standards under the clean air act. mr. wehrum is part of a larger trend within president trump's
administration. many of the nominees that are being intorn in -- sworn in are unqualified, incompetent, and have actually built their careers on dismantling the agencies they are now leading. to be clear, mr. wehrum's nomination represents yet another broken promise by president trump. this time to our nation's farmers. as a candidate, mr. trump pledged to champion the r.f.s., a policy with broad partisan support that reduces our greenhouse gas emissions, helps us revive rural economies, and makes our nation less dependent on foreign oil. yet, the president has continued to surround himself with advisors intent on sabotaging the r.f.s., like scott pruitt and now mr. wehrum. mr. wehrum has proven time and time again that he is not a friend of the renewable fuel standard. he sued the biofuel industries not once, not twice, not three times but at least four times representing groups like the
american petroleum institute that are strong opponents of the r.f.s. during his nomination hearings, mr. wehrum refused to commit to supporting the r.f.s. claiming that he was unfamiliar with the program. he wouldn't even acknowledge the unprecedented attacks launched on the biofuel industries by this administration. if you support the r.f.s. like illinois farmers and i do, it should be obvious that the right thing to do is to oppose mr. wehrum. this is not about having blanket opposition to president trump's nominees. this is about our national security, our rural communities and our environment. look, i have already fought a war over oil, and i'd rather run my car on american-grown corn and soy genes than oil from the middle east. our farmers deserve better than a president who makes campaign promises to protect the r.f.s. in iowa but won't honor them when he gets to the white house.
i understand that administrator pruitt has written a letter to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle regarding a pending petition requesting to move the point of obligation and a rule-making on renewable volumetric obligations. both of these decisions will be final in the coming days and so that is why i'm calling on my colleagues to simply hold mr. wehrum's nomination until after e.p.a. finalizes these decisions. there is no rush to confirm mr. wehrum this week. or better yet, let's oppose his nomination altogether. i'm also concerned that he will gut key public health protections that we all rely on to protect our families and the air that we breathe. one of the most serious responsibilities i have as both a united states senator and a mother is to protect children and families from harmful pollutants and to make sure that the air they breathe is safe from toxic chemicals.
after reviewing bill wehrum's previous work on the office of air and radiation, it's clear that he made dismantling the clean air act and all of the air pollution safeguards and public health protections guaranteed by it one of his top priorities. in that office, he actively fought to roll back commonsense safeguards against lead, fine particulate pollution and ozone smog. but he didn't stop there. he even led efforts to weaken standards designed to reduce emissions of mercury, one of the most deadly toxic pollutants in the world, from coal-fired power plants. bill wehrum wasn't looking out for us. he was looking out for the fossil fuel industry. when mr. wehrum was originally nominated for this position under the bush administration, the senate had good sense to reject his nomination. he was never confirmed, and i hope we do not confirm him now. again, i urge all my colleagues to oppose mr. wehrum's nomination and instead support
our farmers, our children, and our families. thank you. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. like the senator from illinois, i rise to voice my opposition to the nomination of bill wehrum to serve as the assistant administrator for air and radiation at the environmental protection agency. the office of air and radiation oversees matters that are critical to human and environmental health. specifically, air and radiation. but also climate change, air quality and vehicle emissions. if confirmed, mr. wehrum would be responsible for these immensely important issues which requires putting the health of our citizens above industry interests. given this, i don't know why
the senate would confirm him for this position. mr. wehrum already served in this role as -- in an acting capacity during the bush administration, but his confirmation was blocked by the senate in 2006. and his prior tenure shows that he will not fulfill the mission of the e.p.a. to protect human health and the environment. in fact, he has a record of putting corporate profits before the well-being of citizens. during his tenure in the bush administration, mr. wehrum rolled back clean air safeguards that protect public health on 27 occasions. his actions were challenged in court for not fulfilling the requirements of the clean air act. and 27 times the court ruled against mr. wehrum. one particular issue that he was involved in was mercury
pollution. under the clean air act, the e.p.a. has to reduce hazardous air pollutants like mercury, which is particularly harmful to children. instead of protecting this population from mercury pollution, a neurotoxin, mr. wehrum decided to advance the interests of polluters. during his tenure, mr. wehrum also led efforts to prevent e.p.a. from addressing climate pollution. fortunately the supreme court eventually ruled in favor of regulating greenhouse gases, forcing the agency to take action. after the senate blocked his nomination in 2006, mr. wehrum decided he would undermine the mission of the agency in behalf of polluters. in his current role as a corporate attorney, he has sued
the e.p.a. multiple times on behalf of clients in the oil, gas, coal, and chemical industries to undermine protections that safeguard public health and the environment. he has used his current position to attack the renewable fuels standard, which requires biofuels to be blended with gasoline, something that big oil companies hate because it means serious competition for dirty oil. so, as attorney for the american petroleum institute, the trade association that represents exxonmobil and bp and a number of other oil and gas giants, mr. wehrum sued the e.p.a. at least four times in an effort to weaken the r.f.s., the renewable fuels standard. this is deeply troubling considering that if he gets this job, he'll be in charge of administering the r.f.s. which
will allow him to implement his clear agenda. he's done nothing to lead us to believe that he'd do anything but side with the giant oil companies. mr. president, the facts are clear. the r.f.s. boots -- boosts energy security. it creates rural jobs. and it's better for the environment than oil. you're never going to see an ethanol spill in the gulf of mexico. colleagues on both sides of the aisle agree despite this bipartisan support, e.p.a. administrator scott pruitt has reduced advanced biofuel blending targets for 2018, and now with mr. wehrum's nomination, i have even less confidence in this administration upholding congress' intent on the r.f.s.
he also has a history of willful ignorance of science. when asked whether he believes that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are the main driver of climate change, mr. wehrum stated that he believes that it is an open question. an answer that runs contrary to the conclusion of 97% of climate scientists and runs counter to the national climate assessment that was released by this administration just last week. emissions from fossil fuel fired power plants are one of the main contributors to climate change. we know this. at the office of air and radiation, mr. wehrum would oversee the repeal of standards that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, the clean power plan. he would also be in charge of
crafting a weaker replacement, if any. and let me be clear. a weak standard is an affront to the public health and safety of future generations. mr. president, to overcome the challenge of climate change, we must transform our economy to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. if we don't, americans, future generations will pay an unacceptable price. but rather than driving innovation and pushing us to overcome this challenge, the administration has ordered a retreat. you can see that retreat everywhere in a budget that would gut funding for science and innovation, in an e.p.a. that values industry profits over the welfare of the public. the 23rd annual united nations climate change conference is taking place right now in bonn,
germany. two years ago, 195 nations came together to sign the paris climate agreement in an historic display of the power of collective human will. and they did it because of u.s. leadership. now contrast that to earlier this year when president trump ordered the united states to retreat. he announced that he was pulling us out of the paris climate agreement. yesterday syria -- syria -- announced that it would ratify the agreement. they were the last remaining nation to not be a part of this agreement. we now stand alone as the only country in the world choosing
not to be part of the global effort to combat climate change. so let's be clear, the president has not only creeded leadership, but -- ceded leadership but he has isolated the united states from the global community. he has put us in this dangerous situation simply to protect short-term profits of the fossil fuel industry. mr. wehrum would exacerbate this administration's wrongheaded approach. he is antiscience, antipublic health, antienvironment. that's why the senate blocked his nomination in 2006. the senate recognized then that he wasn't fit for the job. he is even less fit today.
i oppose his nomination, and i urge my colleagues to do the same. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the en bloc consideration of the following nominations executive calendar 400, 401 and 402. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the nominations. the clerk: nominations, department of veterans affairs, melissa sue glynn of the district of columbia to be an assistant secretary. cheryl l. mason of virginia to be chairman of the board of veterans appeals. randy reeves of mississippi to be under secretary for memorial affairs. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the senate vote on the nominations en bloc with no intervening
actions or debate that if confirmed the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, that the president be notified of the senate's action and any statements related to the nominations be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. the question occurs on the nominations en bloc. all those in favor say aye. all opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nominations are confirmed en bloc. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. res. 324 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 324, designating november 9, 2017, as national diabetes heart health awareness day, coinciding with america diabetes month. the presiding officer: without
objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i further ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. res. 325 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 325 expressing support for designation of the week of october 29 through november 4, 2017 as national obesity care week. the presiding officer: without objection the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i further ask the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 3243 which was received from the house. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 3243, an act to amend title 4, united states code to eliminate the sunset of
certain provisions relating to information technology, and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without objection. the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the bill be considered read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 250, h.r. 194. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar 250, h.r. 194, an act to ensure the effective processing of mail by federal agencies, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the bill be considered read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding rule 22, at 11:00 a.m. on thursday, november 9, there be 30 minutes of postcloture time remaining on the wehrum nomination, equally divided between the leaders or their designees, and that following
the use or yielding back of that time, the senate vote on the confirmation of the wehrum nomination, and that if confirmed the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. further, that following disposition of the wehrum nomination, the senate stand in recess until 1:45, and that at 1:45, the senate vote on the nomination to invoke cloture on the kan nomination with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 9:30 thursday, november 9. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. further, following leader remarks, the senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the wehrum nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: so if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask it
stand adjourned under the previous order, following the remarks of senators perdue and merkley. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. perdue: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. perdue: mr. president, i am, like you, a relative newcomer to this body. it's an enormous privilege and responsibility to be a member. and like you, i come from the real world, spending a career where your word is your bond, and telling untruth is not rewarded. unfortunately, in this body, sometimes that's not the case, and both sides are guilty. what americans are demanding right now is a change in the status quo, not only in this body, but in washington in its entirety. tonight i want to talk about some of the things that happen in this body, and i know both
sides are guilty, but these are a couple of examples that i think rise above the norm and just so egregious, i could not let stand. members of the minority party and their friends in the media are doing everything they can to stop us right now from changing the tax code this year. they're complaining about health care -- their complaint about health care was that we weren't doing it in regular order. well, now we're doing tax in regular order. the bill that we're working on in the senate will go to committee as soon as next week. it will be marked up with amendments from both sides. it will then go at the right time on this floor, and we'll have amendments again from both sides, and we will vote that bill up or down into law or not. but members of the other side are actively spreading numbers and studies that are based on false assumptions and have been proven to be untrue. i want to just highlight a couple tonight, but there are many others. on monday, the tax policy center released a study saying that the house plan, which was released
last week to change the tax code would raise taxes on 25% of american families. a member of the leadership of the minority party made this quote that day, and i quote -- this analysis makes clear that over one-quarter of taxpayers will see a tax increase under the republican plan, all in the name of giveaways for the wealthiest americans and biggest corporations. republicans want to take away middle-class deductions for people with student loan interest and medical expenses so that the rich can exploit bigger loopholes and corporations can pay lower taxes, unquote. well, mr. president, that study by the tax policy center didn't even survive a full day. it was retracted later that afternoon. it's not even publicly available today online to even review any longer. but do you know what is?
the statements that came out of that report that day, false statements just like the one i just gave and many others highlighting this study was reality. maybe even worse is that these are false stories that are still running through the media, as if it were true, as if it were fact. the website vox posted a story about this titled the numbers are in and the house republican tax bill raises taxes on nearly one-third of americans. surely, they posted an update saying that the study has been retracted. they say they'll update the story once new numbers are released. in the meantime, this headline and this story is still in existence out there as if it were still true. why wouldn't they take down the story? why wouldn't they change the headline until new numbers are available? i wish that this was a single discredited study we're talking about and that this was the only time something like this has happened since we started to
have this debate about changing the tax code and making america competitive again. unfortunately, it is not. multiple members of the minority party said that the tax framework supported by president trump would raise taxes on families earning less than $86,000 per year. one of the colleagues even said specifically on average, middle-class families earning less than $86,000 will see a tax increase under the republican tax reform plan, unquote. another said, quote, the average tax increase on families nationwide earning up to $86,100 would be $794 per year, unquote. here's another one, and i quote -- the average tax increase on families nationwide earning up to $86,100 would be $794. you begin to think, mr. president, that there was a common thread here across many members in this body about this same story. this talking point is so wrong that even "the washington post"
later that day came out and said so. it gave this claim four pinocchios, which we all know is their highest acclaimed number against a falsity. that's the worst rating you can get on their fact checking. "the washington post" full ruling said, and i quote, democrats have spread the false claim that families will face a hefty tax hike. actually, it's the opposite. most families in that income range would indeed get a tax cut. any democrat who spread this claim should delete their tweets and make clear they were in error. that's "the washington post," mr. president. at least one statement making this claim is still up, and i haven't seen a similar statement admitting error. these are but a couple of examples, mr. president. there are many more. house minority leader, just as one last example, house leader
pelosi has called changing the tax code a ponzi scheme. virtually every democrat has called it a betrayal of the middle class. clearly, the facts do not back up these claims. the minority party is doing all it can to stop us from getting this done this year because it makes good politics somehow. that's the only explanation i see. but answer this for me. it just doesn't make any sense. why would someone oppose giving the middle class a tax break? why would someone oppose making america competitive again? why would someone oppose bringing billions of dollars of u.s. profits back in the united states so they can be reinvested in the economy and create jobs? i don't understand it. it's time for people in washington and even in this body to stop doing what is best for their own political self-interest, on both sides, frankly, and start doing what is right for the national interest, and that right now, mr. president, in the next few days is clearly one thing, and
that is fixing this archaic tax code. every person in this body is responsible to some degree for the arrest cake nature of this tax code. both parties are responsible. if they were acting in their ow, we would be hearing about the study showing that on average, americans are projected to get a pay increase of somewhere between $4,000 and $9,000 under this plan. we would be hearing about how families making less than $86,000 a year are actually getting a tax cut in reality. again, that's a point even "the washington post" acknowledged. we would be hearing about how lowering the corporate tax rate, ending the tax on repatriated earnings, will make us more competitive with the west of th. we would be hearing about the economic growth that could result from these potential changes. mr. president, we have a historic opportunity before us to deliver results and make a difference in the lives of all americans. there are members of the minority party, however, who support these changes in the tax code right up until the point
president trump took office, but that's no excuse for this nonsense that's going on right now. mr. president, i think it's our role on both sides to call out these untruths. it's also our responsibility to stop this nonsense. what the american people want are facts. they don't want fake news. they want to be able to know that we're up here doing their work for them to make sure that we make america competitive again. mr. president, like you, i lived in the real world. i dealt with the nonsense that came out of these bodies up here that affected our tax code in a way that kept us from being competitive. it's time we changed that. we have got to get it done this year so we can ignite economic growth next year and give relief to the middle class who have suffered so much over the last eight years. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor.
mr. merkley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, we have a very important role in this senate, to provide advice and consent on nominees. our forefathers who wrote the constitution envisioned that this power would be used rarely because a president, knowing that this power existed, would appoint -- would nominate highly suitable people for the posts that they were intended to occupy. but we haven't seen highly suitable people coming through this chamber this year. in fact, we see one person after another so fabulously unsuited for the office or position to which they are nominated. we saw scott pruitt, who took on and attacked regulations designed to create clean air across this tun time after time after -- this country time after time after time.
very close association with the fossil fuel industry that wanted to allow more par particular illegal immigrants -- particulants which cause a tremendous amount of health problems in this country. we saw betsy devos come through this chamber, a person who had been nominated to be secretary of education, but had never stepped inside a public school. didn't respect public schools. hadn't had children in public schools. hadn't volunteered in public schools. wanted to decimate public schools. the best thing we could do for public schools would have been to turn down that nomination, but this chamber just locked up and said, boy, you know, we're going to do everything we can to damage public education. many of us stood up against that and said no. let's fight for somebody who is going to make public education better, not tear it down, but that's not what we got. and now we have another individual here to be considered on the floor of this senate, bill wehrum. bill wehrum, nominated to head e.p.a.'s office of air and
radiation. well, bill wehrum has made a career out of working for powerful special interests and attacking any effort to make the air cleaner. is that a person suitable for this role of protecting the air we breathe and making it better, someone who has sought to make it worse? during the nomination hearing, i put up a very simple chart. i wanted to understand his thoughts about what was driving climate disruption. i put up a chart showing what nasa data showed for the solar impact, solar flares and so forth which sometimes they say maybe it's solar flares causing the warming of the planet. nasa had this data which showed a flatline on that and then a rising temperature. i said any sign of correlation between these two lines? his response was kind of like, well, what do you mean?
correlation? he didn't have any understanding of the basics of how to compare one thing to another. and so i put up another chart. that other chart showed autopsy of the activities that are considered to be ones that might contribute to global warming that are not man made activities, things like the solar flares and volcanic activity. again the nasa data showed a flat line and then the rising temperature. i said does there appear to be any -- any correlation between this flat line and this rising temperature? and he again said i just -- i just don't understand the data. i can't really comment on that. and yet, anyone with any basic ability to digest information would recognize that there was no correlation. you didn't have two things moving in the same direction. and then i put up this chart right here. now, this chart shows that same
temperature. observe the black line. and then it shows the line for rising carbon dioxide. and i said well, are these -- these things correlated? do you see any relationship between one line rising and the other line rising? again, he refused to answer. how is it we can put someone into a position who can't even look at and comment on basic data, who has been a hired hand for the fossil fuel industry, who has fought to make our air filthier and more damaging to our health? that's the nominee we have. a nominee who has sued on behalf of very powerful interests, e.p.a. 31 times to try to degrade the control for things like mercury, a potent neurotoxin that damages the brain, particularly of our
children. why would we want somebody who wants more mercury in our air to be in this position considering air quality? well, it certainly doesn't make any sense to me. he did have a chance to serve in this position in acting capacity back in 2006, so he's been there before. and he adopted guidelines on mercury emissions that had entire passages lifted word for word from information provided by the industry. the industry didn't want to regulate the mercury and he just took their language and said that's what we'll do. we'll do what industry says. he wasn't working for the american people. he was working for the powerful and the privileged. and then he told an e.p.a. staffer, quote, not to undertake the normal scientific and economic studies when crafting important rules.
he instructed his staff not to look at the scientific information when constructing rules. what did he want them to look at? he wanted them to look at the language from the industry. that is not protecting the public interest. as "the new york times" wrote, he has sought to elevate corporate interest above those of the public. well, this is not a position in a company. it is not a position in a corporation. this is a position of public trust so he has failed that test. in fact, he failed it so badly that although he was nominated in 2006 when there was a republican majority in this chamber, his nomination was subsequently rejected by the u.s. senate. well, back then we had a -- we had folks who really actually cared on both sides of the aisle far more about air quality, now it seems like the enormous
amount of funding from the koch brothers for campaigns across the country have squelched any consideration from my colleagues about the quality of the air or the quality of our water. and this nomination is certainly a test of that. if colleagues do care about the quality of our air, they will act like their predecessors did back in 2006 are and they will -- 2006 and they will reject this nomination, an individual who betrayed the public trust should not be confirmed to a position of public trust. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: under the the presiding officer: under the the senate approved the nomination for the national
labor relations board. they also voted to limit debate and move forward with the nomination of william wareham to be epa assistant administrator for air and radiation. the senate is back tomorrow. watch live coverage on c-span2. >> 50 years ago, the united states was at war in vietnam. this veterans day weekend, american history tv on c-span three looks back with 48 hours of coverage, starting saturday at 8:00 a.m. eastern, we are live from the national archives among the backdrop of three vietnam helicopters, to talk with veterans who flew them. then we are taking your phone calls and tweets live with historians about the war in 1967. a ceremony featuring remarks by chuck hagel and memorial designer island. on sunday at 4:00 p.m. on real
american, a 1967 cbs news vietnam war special report. >> whether it's due to the enemies clever tactics, the bad fighting condition, the weather or terrain, it's clear the american military has bogged down, like the marines in the mud. >> been at 6:00 p.m., american artifacts will tour the national archives exhibit remembering vietnam. at eight on the presidency, 1967 president lyndon johnson vietnam war press conference. >> we said we would stand with those people in the face of common danger and the time came when we had to put up or shut up and we put up and we are there. >> watch the vietnam war, 50 years later, this weekend on american history tv.